We are a week behind but that happens when our due date falls on Thanksgiving weekend. We are flexible and I am thankful.
I decided to head back to our Macedonia trip for this months 30 minutes. There are so many images and I feel like I have not had time to focus on editing just lately. Hopefully the new year will bring about some changes and I will renew my focus on going out and getting some images again. Its’s been a rough 2 years but we had really good news on Richard’s health and getting the no cancer detected was a huge huge relief for all of us. Today’s time is all about Luka and his baptism.
Confession time. These photos are salvaged as best I can, but I want to share them because this was one of the main reasons we were in Macedonia. The first was to be part of Amy and Daniel’s second wedding, the second was to meet his family, and the third was to witness Luka be baptized.
Daniel’s family is Orthodox Macedonian, and so Luka was baptized in the Orthodox church. What I will say is that I did not understand a word of it, but I could follow along with the actions and I had done some research on what to expect.
When we arrived at the church, I thought that we would be going into the church, however, that was not the case. The family was ushered into a small room across the lot where the baptismal font was. The room was not well lit and I did not have a flash. My camera has been pretty good with low light but it is a fine balance between grainy ISO, and low speed. Some of the images, Luka just moved to much, and I got too much blur. In addition when I decided on what lens to take for traveling I took the 70-300mm and the 17-40mm. Neither were the best for such a small room. The other issue I had was the colors on the walls were the same as the skin tone and it was just too much. In addition there were no open windows, no fans, no air conditioning and it was 105 F. These African have got so used to air conditioning over the past 20 years that not having it is not fun.
This is the tones for all the images and it was just too much for my eyes. So I shifted to black and white. Hopefully things will be a little bit better.
When Amy and Daniel decided to go back to Macedonia for their second wedding reception for Daniels family, they also decided to have Luka baptized at the church his mother attends in Vinica, St Arhangel Michael. The church is situated close to where Daniel’s mom lived and short walking distance from the hotel we were staying at. Churches in Macedonia are not the typical large churches we see in the USA. Perhaps in rural areas they would be similar, however, size wise it was very similar to the church I grew up in in South Africa. This was only the second time I have been into a Macedonian church. I found one about an hour from where we live and we attended a Christmas service one year. What I did find then was that they used a lot of incense, and I was struggling to breathe at the end of the service. This time that was not the case.
While we were waiting on Daniel and the priest, we went into the tiny room. Below is Luka with his baba (grandmother).
Once the priest came in the ceremony started. From what I have seen and read incense is involved and it appears that the purpose of the incense is to offer prayers . Incense is made up of a mix of spices and gums which are burned during services to produce fragrant smoke. Grains of incense are put on burning charcoal in the censer with a prayer, “We offer thee incense, O Christ our God, for an odor of spiritual fragrance. Receive it upon your heavenly altar and send down upon us, in return, the gift of your Holy Spirit.”
In Macedonia, and from what I can see, the Orthodox church is fairly strict on the godparents. The godparent must be an Orthodox Christian. Typically from what I understand there is one official godparent (kum – male) but there could be a female as well (kuma). I read that generally the kum serves as the best man at the wedding and then the godparent at the baptism. In this case Daniel’s best man Zlatko, served as Luka’s godparent as well. During the ceremony, the Kum is the person holding the child to be baptized, not actually the parents. Below Zlatko was presenting Luka to the priest
There was a lot of reading done from the bible and since it was all in Macedonian, I did not understand a word of it.
Then Luka was strip down to his birthday suit and was anointed with oil in various places on his body. In the Greek tradition only olive oil is used. I am not sure if it is the same in the Macedonian tradition, but the reason for using Olive Oil was interesting.
“The reason Orthodox Christians use olive oil is biblical and dates back to the time of Noah and the flooding of the earth. In essence, God was baptizing the earth with the flood.
After forty days, Noah sent out a dove that came back with a twig from an olive branch. The olive twig was a sign of mercy from God that he had saved Noah, a believer. Just as the olive healed and soothed Noah during the baptism of the planet, Orthodox Christians use the olive oil as a sign of grace to the newly anointed.” (Orthodox Baptism FAQ).
Not sure that Lukie knew what was happening but he had drops of oil all over him. I read that the priest would cut off 3 strands of hair, which would represent gratitude to Christ (again the Greek interpretation) but I cannot recall that being done and if it was, I did not get any photo’s.
Next he was off to the font to be baptized. Again from what I understand the priest covered Luka with water 3 times to represent the three days Christ spent in the tomb. This also represents Christ’s baptism, death and resurrection. He is wrapped in a towel and handed back to the godparent.
Once Luka was dressed Zlatko, as his Kum, was handed 2 candles. There was an interesting procedure of walking around the font, and at certain point bowing. I have no idea what the symbolizes. In the Greek tradition is symbolizes a dance of joy. But this looked far more serious a happening. Another webpage I read mentioned that they walked around the font 3 times and this was supposed to signify rejoicing with the angles in heaven and the other Christians present at the addition of one more member to the flock of Christ.
I also have no idea what the flowers symbolized.
Beyond that there was more readings from the bible, and a fidgety little man.
And then it was all done bar the picture taking.
Just when I thought we were done, we were ushered over to the main church where the priest entered a side door, and walked through the back and came out another side door. I cannot remember if he did it more than once. While that was done, I just got to really look around at this ornate and beautiful church.
And that was Luka’s baptism. It was a beautiful event, and I was glad to be a small part of witnessing this event. The day was not over, but that is for another blog. From the church we headed out to Daniel’s home for a short while before heading to a restaurant along a river where the family gathered to celebrate his baptism. This included aunts, uncles, and cousins of the family.
Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. I always love looking at the sneak peaks and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what Lupji of Lupji Photography has for you this month, and I look forward to seeing what he has to share.